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2020-2021 NBA Preview – Southwest Division

Spurs and Rockets Are Solid

Our NBA Southwest Division preview 2020 – 2021 anticipates that two of the five teams in this group have a real shot at the postseason. We like the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. However, we can’t rule out the Dallas Mavericks. They have a very good team that will readily compete. But in the end, we find that both the Northwest and Pacific Divisions stand a tad better chance of contributing three teams each to the 2021 playoffs.

After the Mavericks, we project the Memphis Grizzlies to finish fourth and the New Orleans Pelicans last. Both of these teams need to get more experience and go through some growing pains.

Last Season

Last season, the Houston Rockets won the Southwest Division with a record of 44-28. They finished 2.5 games ahead of the other team from the division, the Dallas Mavericks, that made the playoffs. The Rockets earned the fourth seed in the West while the Mavericks were given the seventh seed. In the First Round of the playoffs, Houston met five-seed Oklahoma City. The Rockets took that first series four games to three. Houston played first-seed Los Angeles in the Conference Semifinals. The Lakers easily dispatched the Rockets in five games. In the initial round, the Mavs met the second-seed Clippers. LA eliminated Dallas four games to two.

The Memphis Grizzlies finished third with a record of 34-39. That earned them a play-in game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland won that contest, eliminating the Grizzlies from the postseason. They were 10.5 games out of first. Finally, the San Antonio Spurs finished fourth and 11.5 games away from the Rockets while the New Orleans Pelicans were dead last, 14 games out of first place. In terms of the Western Conference, Memphis finished tied for eighth and 19 games away from the Lakers, while San Antonio was 11th and 20 games out of first. Finally, New Orleans ended up 13th and 22.5 games behind the Los Angeles.

NBA Southwest Division Preview 2020 – 2021 – Teams

Dallas Mavericks – Point guard Luka Doncic and shooting guard Tim Hardaway are top backcourt performers. However, the frontcourt has injury issues and production off the bench may be less than needed. Overall, last season, statistical differentials favored the Mavs. Head coach Rick Carlisle is one of the best.

Houston Rockets – PG John Wall comes to the Rockets in a trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Washington. Despite the trade, premiere SG James Harden wants to be traded. The frontcourt is a patchwork. Additionally, it lacks depth. After 20 years as an assistant and scout, Stephen Silas gets a head coaching gig. There’s certainly work to be done.

Memphis Grizzlies – Power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. is out, as is substitute small and power forward Justise Winslow. Those are fairly big hits for this team. The good news is that point guard Ja Morant is the real thing and two-guard Dillon Brooks is dependable and efficient. This is head coach Taylor Jenkins second year. He’s got a lot of young talent to mentor and shape.

New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans have two young dynamic talents in PG Lonzo Ball and PF Zion Williamson. Along with Ball, a lot of new players join the team and will start. Those new guys are either quite young or well-travelled. Head coach Stan Van Gundy comes to the Pelicans with a lot of experience. He’s a quality coach who’s going to have to call on all of his knowledge and tools to make this team perform at an acceptable level. This is a year for growth.

San Antonio Spurs – The frontcourt includes small forward DeMar DeRozan and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. They are a quality duo. San Antonio has a great shooting percentage and one of the best coaches in the NBA, Gregg Popovich. He develops teams that are disciplined and productive. Shooting guard Derrick White is out recovering from surgery. The Spurs can really use him.

NBA Southwest Division Preview 2020 – 2021 – Projection

This NBA Southwest Division preview 2020 – 2021 finds the following:

  1. San Antonio Spurs*
  2. Houston Rockets*
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. New Orleans Pelicans

*Playoff team

Southwest Division – Pluses and Minuses

  • Mavericks offer balanced offense and defense
  • Dallas center Kristaps Porzingis is injured again
  • Rockets now have PG John Wall
  • Houston may not have James Harden as he wants a trade
  • Grizzlies PG Ja Morant is a great talent
  • Memphis injuries to the frontcourt are a concern
  • Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy can bring the best out of everyone
  • New Orleans starting five is overall composed of newly arrived and/or inexperienced players
  • Spurs head coach Popovich is one of the best in the NBA
  • San Antonio center Jakob Poeltl needs to step up

NBA Southwest Division Preview 2020 – 2021 – Final Word

In considering our NBA Southwest Division preview 2020 – 2021, we like both the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. Each team possesses postseason potential. The other basketball team that looks promising is Dallas. However, we think that the Mavs have enough issues that they will have a difficult time qualifying. The biggest issue for Dallas is its frontcourt. Memphis and New Orleans are in transition and have various question marks that can hamper their progress.


Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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